Authors: Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams
Illustrated: Craig Phillips
128 pages–Ages 6-9
Published by Aladdin on April 02, 2013
Summary (from Simon and Schuster):
The Heroes in Training are entering the Underworld—if Hades can conquer his canine fears, that is.
The Underworld usually isn’t really meant to be a fun place—but tell that to Hades! He loves the dark and the stinky smell of sulfur. However, there is one thing that Hades is not a fan of: dogs. And when Zeus and his fellow Olympians encounter Cerberus—a snarling, three-headed dog—Hades must conquer his fears and tame the hound so everyone can continue into the Underworld and deposit their Titan prisoner, Oceanus, back where he belongs!
But with magical water that causes forgetfulness, hot beds of lava, and another epic battle with two more Titans standing in their way, will Zeus and his heroes make it out of the Underworld with everyone intact?
The Heroes in Training series is written by the same authors who came up with the Goddess Girl series and the Grimmtastic Girls series. Actually, I thought that this series would be more like the Goddess Girls series in terms of difficulty except that the audience for Goddess Girls is young girls while the audience for this series would be young boys. When I picked up this book and saw how thin it was I was confused. Not only that, but when I opened the book I saw that there were pictures in it. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed, because I thought that this book would be action packed and exciting. I thought about not reading it and just putting it back on the shelf. I decided though, that it deserved a chance and that there was no reason that this wouldn’t be a good book. I chose the third book in the series to start off with instead of the first because, for some reason, I seem to have an affection for Hades. I think a lot of it stems from the fact that in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, I was a fan of how the author portrayed Hades, not as an evil character but as one that everyone shunned (maybe one day I’ll write a post on Hades in the Percy Jackson series). Sometimes, I’m worried that when authors write well known characters again (such as retellings of Cinderella), I will be biased toward their character and not like them just because they are not like the original version of the character that I already like. Hopefully, that won’t be a problem with this book.
This book is about the journey of Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades into the underworld because the Oracle of Delphi gives them a prophecy that tells them to go and collect a treasure (which is the Helm of Darkness).
Thankfully, my worries about not liking the characters in this book didn’t happen. I like the 3 Olympians (Hades, Zeus, and Poisoiden) and thought of them as endearing. They definitely acted juvenile, but when the situation called for it they also stepped up and acted like heroes. It was fun to see them not as the all-powerful beings they normally are portrayed as in other literature (for example the Percy Jackson series), but as young heroes trying to fight for their future of greatness.
It was cute to see how the characters act toward one another (ex: Zeus and Hera) because, for the most part, the readers know how the characters end up in the future (Zeus and Hera marry). The type of humor is definetley juvinille (think lame punny jokes and practical jokes incuding namecalling), but oddly I found it refreshing and enjoyable (maybe because it brought me back to my childhood years?). Personally, I have a soft spot for bad jokes becuase they are just so bad they are funny. An example of a punny joke from the book would be:
Just then Charon’s voice boomed out, making everyone jump. “First a little humor. Who can tell me what the favorite game in the Underworld is?”
Before anyone could guess, Charon answered his question himself: “Pick-Up-Styx! Ha-ha-ha!”
I haven’t read the first two books, but after reading this one I probably will pick them up and give them a try also. This series has 12 books and is on-going. I’m not sure if I will read them all because to be honest these kinds of books can get a little repetitive (that’s what happened to me when I read the Goddess Girls), but so far this book has whet my appetite for the series. I would recommend this book to young readers, although you should probably start with the first book in the series.